Michael Cohen, ex-Trump lawyer, asks USA judge for leniency

Cohen, his lawyers say, committed the campaign finance violations and lied to Congress out of his loyalty to Trump and to stay on message even while he was preparing for his 2017 testimony to Congress. And they said Cohen lied about efforts to finalize a Trump business project in Moscow during the heart of the campaign because he knew it was Trump's "strongly voiced mantra" to minimize the investigation into connections between his campaign and the Kremlin.

Cohen pleaded guilty on Thursday to lying to Congress about the Russia investigation in a new deal with Mueller, who is probing Russian meddling during the 2016 presidential election.

Cohen has been cooperating with Robert Mueller's investigation into the ties between Trump and Russian Federation, and his lawyers argued that his cooperation should earn him a sentence of "time-served" as opposed to the potential sentence of five years and three months recommended by federal sentencing guidelines.

His lawyers note that Cohen's legal problems aren't over and he "will be named in a parallel tax case brought by New York State".

Cohen, the filing says, could have "continued to hold the party line, positioning himself perhaps for a pardon or clemency", but instead, "he took responsibility for his own wrongdoing and contributed and is prepared to continue to contribute to an investigation that he views as "thoroughly legitimate and vital".

The 83-year-old Holocaust survivor wrote that his son "is the oxygen in the air that I breathe", the New York Times reported.

"This personal decision does not signal any intention on Michael's part to withhold information or his availability to respond to additional inquiry".

"Arising out of Michael's concern that his entry into a traditional cooperation agreement would likely delay his sentencing, as investigations and trials unfold and conclude, he respectfully declined to pursue conventional cooperation so that his sentencing proceeding would go forward as scheduled", Cohen's lawyers wrote. "To the contrary, he expects to cooperate further", the memo states. "But, following the execution of search warrants in this case, almost every professional and commercial relationship that he enjoyed, and a number of long-standing friendships, have vanished".

On Saturday, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin confirmed that Cohen had reached out to him about the hotel project-which never materialized.

Cohen, the lawyers argue, should be commended for his cooperation "in the context of this raw, full-bore attack by the most powerful person in the United States".

"Michael regrets that his vigor in promoting Client-1's interests in the heat of political battle led him to abandon good judgment and cross legal lines", they added. He then spoke by phone with one of Peskov's assistants.

Detailing the contacts, he described "two emails and one telephone call, returned telephone call, asking what they wanted and why they wanted to be in contact with [the Russian] presidential administration" that took place.

A prosecutor from Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office told a judge on November 30 that prosecutors have not yet decided whether to file new charges against Manafort.

In another, a woman wrote that her husband, who is Syrian, had been friends with Cohen since 1984.

  • Rogelio Becker